We are in favour of changing Article 436, say committee members

We are in favour of changing Article 436, say committee members

Burma’s parliamentary Joint Committee to Review the Constitution (JCRC) has finalised its notes and recommendations on constitutional reform, according to three of the 31 committee members. Aye Maung, an upper house MP and appointed JCRC member, told DVB on Thursday that all members had examined the 15 chapters of the 2008 Constitution, with amendments suggested for more than 450 of the 457 articles. “We have suggested amendments to more than 450 articles in the Constitution,” he said. “The suggestions are accompanied by notes from each member of the committee detailing their individual stance on every article.” He confirmed that Article 436 – the focus of an intensive campaign by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society Group – was among those clauses included by committee members with recommendations for change. [related] Article 436 stipulates that any constitutional amendment requires the approval of 75 percent of parliament. The two groups say that the clause is undemocratic because it provides the military – which is appointed 25 percent of parliamentary seats – veto power on any proposed amendments. Aye Maung said he could not yet disclose the details of the suggested changes, which are to be handed to the House Speaker in time for the next parliamentary session in September. “Although we are not at liberty as yet to disclose what the suggested amendments are – what we can tell you is that they were drafted with the aim of reflecting the will of the people,” he said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, another committee member said, “The consideration with Article 436 is whether to reduce the minimal approval required in parliament from 75 percent to 66 percent.” Another JCRC member, Nan Say Awr, said: “We view the threshold of 75 percent approval as implausible. It should be lowered.” Speaking on the matter of another controversial clause, Article 59(f), which effectively bars Suu Kyi from running for the presidency because of foreign-born family members, another JCRC member told DVB that this article would be more difficult to annul or change.

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